13 Inspiring Children’s Books About the Civil Rights Movement

This is a list of living books that tell the stories of the people and events of the Civil Rights Movement. While these are picture books, they are stories that all ages can appreciate. Some of my very favorite children’s books are on this list because they tell such inspiring stories of courage and determination. I hope you enjoy them as much as my children and I have!

(Affiliate links have been included in this post for your convenience)

Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey

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About an African American family trying to travel to the south in the Jim Crow era. Gives insight into segregation and discrimination. Highly recommend!

A Time to Act – John F. Kennedy’s Big Speech by Shana Corey

Touches on life during the Civil Rights Movement and segregation. Tells a little about the life and legacy of JFK, and his courage in trying to lead the United States to equality.

Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport

Beautiful story about how Martin Luther King Jr. used powerful words of love and hope to fight for justice. Highly recommend! 

The United States v. Jackie Robinson by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

The inspiring story of Jackie Robinson and the role he played in the Civil Rights Movement. Highly recommend! 

Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford

I can’t recommend this book enough! A true account of the life of Fannie Lou Hamer and her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. Heartbreaking, moving, hopeful, and inspiring, this is an emotional read. Note: there are some difficult topics mentioned in this book: forced sterilization (p. 12), and the overall injustice and violence that were realities during this time. There is also strong language (p. 21). This is a beautifully written picture book, but you might want to pre-read before sharing it with your children. Highly highly recommend! 

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton

The author tells the true story of her experience as a child observer and participant in the Civil Rights Movement. Told from a child’s perspective, so it is excellent for children. Features other prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement who she knew and had a relationship with, such as Martin Luther King Jr.. Highly recommend! 

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson

This story is amazing and fabulous for children! Tells the true story of a nine year-old girl who bravely went to jail to protest segregation. This book explains segregation and the Civil Rights Movement in a way that is very accessible to children. One of my favorites! 

Between the Lines by Sandra Neil Wallace

This is the true story of Ernie Barnes who was a football player and artist. It highlights some of obstacles that he faced because of the segregation and discrimination of his time.

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans

Told through the memories of “Lillian” and her ancestors, this story takes the reader from the time of slavery to 1965, when the right to vote was finally guaranteed for all Americans. Good read! 

We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song by Debbie Levy

Talks about the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the role of the song “We Shall Overcome” not only in the United States, but in civil rights movements throughout the world. The text is very clear and easy for children to understand.

Carter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson

The story of Carter G. Woodson, the son of former slaves post Civil War, who raised himself from poverty, gained an education, and became an advocate for black Americans. He formed the movement that later led to Black History Month. Great read!

If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold

This story takes the reader on an imaginary bus ride during which the bus tells the story of Rosa Parks. The author does a good job of making the story engaging and accessible.

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford

Based on real events, but told from a fictional child’s point of view, this is a gentle but powerful window into segregation and the movement to change it. Excellent read!

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